Surviving Tragedy

Things happen. That’s the unchangeable, unrelenting, and (more often than not) unapologetic fact of life. If you are like me, you might even give it the punchier little platitude of “shit happens”. People say it everywhere, and they say it like that makes what’s happening better. As though, if you can shorten a national, personal, or even minor seeming tragedy into a tiny little bundle of letters, a simple phrase no longer than two words, if possible, if that length and simplicity can be achieved than the massive, world-changing and life shaking event doesn’t have to touch you.

I live in America, and have for most of my life, born and raised all over this country because my father was a career Marine. I’ve been involved with the military both on the fringe and as a spouse through a significant amount of my adult life as well and have the gift of never existing in a bubble. I have never lived anywhere long enough to only have the opinions or experiences of that area and my friend groups have never been completely one-sided in belief.

We are hurting today, as a nation and as a people. We have been suffering for a long time, longer than any person’s political career has lasted, and longer, probably, than we have been a country. We are hurting, and while it would be easy for me to use whatever kind of voice I have right here to delve into my opinions on the presidents handling of the massive string of devastating hurricanes followed by this horrific act of violence, or how much I would love to talk about gun statistics and why I am fundamentally for against what I am, I won’t today.

Maybe soon I will have the energy and will to write about why I believe that things are mentally devastating for American in general or about how to survive the political climate and remain a full and okay human being, but today I want to discuss how to continue through tragedy and continue to be empathetic and healthy human beings, how to both give your all and still manage to not feel like everything has been drained from you.

In a very short amount of time America has suffered three major hurricanes, unusual earthquakes, and now this devastating shooting in Los Vegas. On a personal front, this year I lost my grandfather that was very close to me, and my life has moved into a state of transition that is terrifying and has forced me out of any kind of stability. Each time I feel myself looking to my old habits for comfort. Whether that is overeating, laying around and sulking, losing my forward movement. It’s easy to just be sad, to feel hopeless.

It’s a cycle, don’t be lulled into it.

When you give up, when you give in, when you let all of your control slip to you hurt yourself for longer. So, the best thing I thought I could do today, while I feel so down, is to share how I keep it together when things are feeling pretty bleak.

 

  • You are entitled to your feelings

Everyone handles stress differently and pretending you don’t feel the way you do, or that this doesn’t affect you is damaging. When something bad happens in the world it can seem like if you weren’t in the direct line of time, you aren’t allowed to have a feeling. It is human nature to respond to trauma in the world and it keeps us living. It doesn’t make you selfish or attention seeking to be sad that bad things happen. This is a world you are a citizen of, you should care.

 

  • Don’t ignore it

It’s okay to step back from the news for a moment, collect your thoughts and your breath, clear your mental state. It’s not irresponsible to stop watching the news for a few days. What is irresponsible is pretending this isn’t happening. I, personally, find it disrespectful to the victims of a tragedy to pretend it just didn’t happen. It happened and the world is changed because of it, whether that is the whole world, the country, or just your world. Turning yourself to ice and shutting it out only prolongs the pain. In order to continue in a healthy way, you have to feel the pain of tragedy. Feel it and move forward.

 

  • Be Proactive

There is a guilt in the world of loss and tragedy. The surefire, never fails, way to cope with the anxiety of the guilt of not living through a disaster when it is happening is to help. There is a surplus of prayer in the world when disaster strikes (and if prayer is your thing, it is a great starting point), but what the world really suffers from is a great deal of prayer and small amount of action. Volunteering and donating when you can is such a massive help. Even if you don’t have money, donate old clothing, donate a craft you can do (knitting, crochet, sewing, building, anything). If you can’t volunteer where the tragedy took place then volunteer somewhere else. In addition, if you are able to give blood, please do. This is a quick and simple way to make a huge life and death impact on a life for purely altruistic reasons and you can never go wrong balancing your karma a little with some altruism.

 

  • Practice Gratitude

Write what you are grateful for. Write it over and over, add to it when you can, make massive lists. Tell the people in your life you love them, and mean it. Apologize to those that have wronged you and reconnect. Call your mom and tell her that you are grateful she protected you in a world where children are so often hurt by their parents, call the ex you parted with on good terms and let them know you appreciate who they were in your life, call a friend you don’t speak with as much anymore and tell them that even though you lost touch, you love them and they matter in your world.

 

A little bit of light can show the way in the dark. Love and compassion is never a bad thing and is always in too short of supply. Americans and the world are suffering and we are all in this together, we will get through this and I am proud of all of you for surviving the best you can.

Keep your chin up, buttercup.

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The Parfait Way to Start the Day

So, there is this conspiracy the rest of the world seems to be involved in. I’m not sure how I either evaded or was eluded by this seemingly health community affirming thought, but here I am. Twenty-Nine years old, two children, a husband, even two animals, and I don’t get breakfast.

What? Nonsense! I know, and here’s the kicker, I have the time to make it! I have two children who require feeding in the morning upon my much awaited gift of my presence to my family, I have two animals that get fed by my daughter first thing in the morning (always because I remind her), so it’s not like there isn’t a chance to make myself something while I’m making the littlest bean her bottle or getting the bigger one some cereal (in a Ziploc baggie because she’s not normal) and instead I usually opt to just have a cup of coffee.

Here’s the problem; my disordered part of my brain wants to see all of this as a bonus, as one less meal in the day, one less opportunity to get in extra calories. Sure, why not? It’s not UNTRUE. Except that then, sometimes it leads to me forgetting that lunch is a thing too, so hey now we’ll just have a big dinner, right? Except dinner is after I run.

So, here is what I am getting at, if I let my disordered brain take control I will end up going out to expel the incredible amount of energy it takes to propel my plus sized body into running, while working off of no or very little fuel. Ultimately this means I get more shin splints, I get fatigued earlier, I am dehydrated and I’m getting home and feel genuinely pretty crappy about my performance and find myself wondering… why was it so bad?

So I guess what I’m getting at is that this all starts at the great conspiracy known as breakfast. I’m not likely to ever get up and make myself eggs and some kind of healthy hash, even though I love those things. So this week I committed to eating breakfast and what I found was the easiest way to do it, was to have some fun with bowls.

We’ve all seen Smoothie Bowls all over Pinterest and Instagram. They are pretty! Who doesn’t like eating pretty food? No one, because we eat with our eyes first, blah blah. They are really simply and easy to toss together, especially if you aren’t super inspired by smoothies like me (They are cool and all, but sometimes they just make my tummy feel weird and then I don’t eat for the rest of the day anyway. Unlike smoothies alone they are richer and creamier, and if we’re all being honest, they are prettier.

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Mixed Fruit Smoothie Bowl

Ingredients

About 1/8th of a block of soft tofu

1/2 cup Vanilla Greek Yogurt

1/2 cup frozen mixed berries

1/2 banana

1/4 cup Almond Milk

a handful of chia or flax seeds

Directions

This one is as simple as can be, just toss it all in a blender or food processor. If you like them a little thinner add more almond milk. Top with the rest of your banana, sliced up, some chia seeds and granola. BAM!

 

The other recent addiction, and possibly more enjoyed addition has been a classic and always in fashion parfait. Creamy, crunchy, fruity, sweet, just the right amount of tart. These bad boys right here have gotten me right back in the breakfast game, for the first time in a long time I get up looking forward to getting myself going with some calcium, protein, fiber! Not only am I nice and full but it reminds me to eat the right amount during the day and at moderate times, but it also manages to give me a nice little energy boost so I’m not curled up on the couch watching last nights The Daily Show waiting for my coffee to kick in.

Peaches and Strawberries Parfait

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Ingredients

Vanilla Greek Yogurt

Granola

1 Peach

Handful of Strawberries

Directions

So you can either make your own homemade granola, but I’m lazy and have three other people to cook for and only  the baby with eat granola with me so I just buy some triple berry granola. The first layer is granola followed by peaches then slices strawberries then some yogurt and repeat. If you want to sweeten the fruit you can toss them in some sugar and let them sit for about twenty minutes until they are nice and juicy. If the yogurt is a little too tart a drizzle of honey on each layer is also great!

 

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So, get up, go make yourself some breakfast. You deserve it, and your body needs the fuel, especially if you are trying to make yourself more active. These are both fairly inexpensive, delicious and a perfect way to start the day.

 

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Grief and Life

From a young age we are taught what grief looks like. Movies are full of tragic screams and shouts of grief. Women splayed across the ground, tears streaming down their perfect fragile faces. We see men cry for their first time in their adult lives and be moved to erratic and dangerous behavior. We see drama and pain and it’s loud and visible. This is what you should look like when you are sad, right? This is how you should suffer? You should sit in some corner unable to eat? Drink? Speak? You should be unable to enjoy the world around you and humor should be sapped from your life for an indeterminate amount of time.

So when my grandpa died last month, and two hours later I was playing video games and laughing with friends, I felt broken.

It’s confusing, still. People hear that your grandpa died and there is sympathy, but a certain amount of expectation. Grandparents are old, right? I’m twenty-eight years old, so it seems reasonable that I should be prepared and ready for the death of the older generation in my family, and in a lot of ways I am. The thing about my grandpa, though, is that he wasn’t old. He wasn’t sick or slow moving, he wasn’t tired or weak. He was strong, incredibly strong. He had an impressive home gym that he used every single day, he golfed with my grandma, he gardened and kept his home pristine. He was in better shape than most people I knew, stacked full of solid muscle. He wasn’t old and grumpy, he was funny. The funniest man I’ve ever known. He called his fists Dynamite and Sure Death and tried to give every kid in the room a knuckle sandwich. He was so big that he was afraid to hold tiny babies even though he loved kids more than anything in the world, and guys get this! He was afraid to hold them, because he was scared he might hurt them on accident.

The memorial was beautiful, so many stories and so much love, every story was funny because that was the impression he made and the funeral home couldn’t hold the amount of people that came to say goodbye to him. I’m not a fan to romanticizing people when they are gone, I believe that flaws make us as beautiful and unique as our good side, but I can’t tell you one bad thing about my grandpa. I have a tattoo of an anchor on my hand because he did, he was the perfect man to grow up around and the hole he left in the world still feels too big.

I felt like I grieved incorrectly, I made underhanded jokes with my uncle and poked fun at things. I only cried once or twice and mostly I just enjoyed my family while I was in town. I avoided my feelings in the visible ways, but behind the scenes my anxiety grew and I stopped Whole30 (which is why there was no further update. I made it to day 13 and then my grandpa died and I knew I would be travelling with two small babies and I couldn’t handle the stress. Once I find another partner for it, I will attempt it again. In the mean time Riley finished it! She did the whole damn thing! You can read about it all over at her blog).

I needed to write this because I need people to know that I am coming back, my fitness is coming back on track. Some people could have stayed on track, in fact I probably could have stayed on track, but you fall down nine times and stand up ten, right? I’m okay, and I’m here. My life is in a large state of flux and transition that I will discuss more coming up, along with making monthly goal posts, lots of things are coming. I have lots of ideas and I’m ready to be more present now that I’ve had time to grieve.

Thank you guys for understanding. In the end I want everyone to know that, there isn’t a right way to be sad, to grieve, to process. Five minutes after my mom told me and I sat in the corner of my bedroom disbelieving, my husband came home and I repeated the same sentiments over and over “he worked out every day” “ he was healthy” “How can he be gone?” Then I looked at my husband and told him I just wanted to watch Real Housewives of Orange County for awhile and play video games. I was afraid he would think I wasn’t sad enough, but luckily he never assumed my feelings. If you need to be sad, please give yourself permission. Food and fitness, running and calories, it can wait. It will be there. You have tomorrow. If you don’t process… it will come back worse.

It’s okay to be sad. I give you permission. Give yourself the permission.

-McMaymie

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Falling Through the Whole(30)

 

So as it turns out, blogging requires some level of mental presence, who woulda thunkit, eh? The last few weeks I have been coping with some pretty fun tooth issues. Ones that are extremely painful, and more than a little distracting. While they have been going on most of my adult life they have come to a bit of head in terms of needing to be dealt with. Due in good part to previous eating disorders and a healthy dose of bad teeth genetics I will more than likely be getting partial dentures in the next few months, so on occasion I may slip away into a semi non-existent state of being. I’m going to give it my best shot not to phone it in here though, because this is important for me, and hey blogging about my insecurities always seems to help me find other people dealing with similar things, and I’m a serious sucker for community.

So for what it’s worth, I am still present, just juggling the process of becoming an even better me with several different levels of health, and that makes a pretty great transition into steering away from where I have been into where I am going!

THE WHOLE30

So for better or worse fad diet exists and I, typically, have a few rules when it comes to them. First, I  have to be intelligent about how the restriction of any diet will affect me because of my dubious history with all things food. Second, this is mostly personal (and probably petty) I hate diets with names; Paleo, Keto, Atkins, blah blah blah. I hate it. It’s not a fair loathing by any means, it’s a hold over from a history spent jumping from fad diet to fad diet, and growing up with the women (and only the women) around me doing the same thing. (Did anyone else’s mom have shelves full of those pre-bought diet meals? The ones that you know probably could have funded a new car for your petulant 16 year old ass. The ones that no one could stick to because the food is always gross?) So now I have this overwhelming mistrust of them. Unfortunately, I also really like a challenge.

I had been thinking for awhile that I needed a change so when my pal Riley mentioned thinking about doing Whole30 for the month of May I started looking into it. I recognize that this kind of diet appeals to some of my BPD sensibilities, an all or nothing mentality makes things interesting when you enter into an elimination based diet, but I wanted something like this. Something that professes to cure me of my All-American sugar addiction, my dependency on all things carb related, and if it could cure me of the chronic headaches I seem to get and give me more energy on top of that? Well that sounds like a party.

Except for the part where you aren’t dumping spoonfuls of sugar into your morning coffee, or hearing the comforting pop of a can of Dr. Pepper, or probably worst so far, bread. Just bread.

In case you aren’t familiar here is a quick summary of the basic rules of this diet, trust me there are a lot of exceptions and weird rules, but the basics are as follows.

  1. No dairy, grains, legumes, or sugar (including sugar subs, ie. Stevia, agave, honey). Also no alcohol or tobacco products.
  2. Eat almost exclusively meat, vegetables, fruit and fats.
  3. Don’t mess up, and if you do start over.
  4. Don’t step on the scale.

 

Now if you check out Riley’s post on Whole30 you’ll see a really solid list of issues that both of us have with the tone of the website, so I won’t reiterate how frustrating I find the smarmy voice the author uses, especially right now, on day three of the program.

 

SO WHATS GOING ON?!

I am currently entering day 4 of the Whole30 and it has already been a wild ride. I can safely assure you that I will be stepping on the scale. Not because I just don’t care about their rules, but because I have issues with food and body image and if I want to see what I weigh while I do all this other stuff that my body already hates, I’m not putting it through the extra anxiety of breaking my scale habits right now. I’m going to try and not do it every day, but once a week? That’s just my reality right now. Aside from that, there hasn’t been any major slip up, which I attribute mostly to the fact that I am doing this with a buddy and if you have someone who will endure this with you, I wholeheartedly suggest it.

THE PRO’S

So I have lost some weight already, in two days I dropped two pounds. I may or may not maintain that level of loss, but still, it was nice to see that the hangover like symptoms I dealing with are made up for somewhere.

I am eating better. I am much more focused on vegetables than I have been in awhile and I’m not drinking one or two soda’s a day so there isn’t much I can complain about there.

I haven’t been so wiped out that I couldn’t manage my run yesterday, in fact I ran further and faster than I have so far while running. (It had only been two runs before that, so I wouldn’t use that as conclusive data)

THE CON’S

Holy withdrawal headaches! There just isn’t any getting around it, day two was miserable, and most of day three wasn’t much better. I had trouble sleeping because of headaches. I woke up with a throbbing brain. Moving made me want to die, and the sounds that leave my two children’s mouths?

Nope.

I am tired, just so incredibly tired. I-have-meant-to-write-this-blog-post-for-three-days levels of tired. Sit on my couch and stare at nothing while I play mindless phone games tired. That is getting better today too.

Here’s a tip, coffee without sugar is gross. And as it turns out, not even the migraine caused, in part, by caffeine withdrawal was enough to get me to drink more than a sip of it. Thankfully my friends rallied and we found a solution together. Bulletproof Coffee (instead of ghee, which I don’t have, or butter I have simply been using coconut oil and it does the job). It’s not my favorite thing in the entire world, but it’s 100% better than drinking the bitter bean water you coffee purists love.

Generally Positive

All in all, it’s 2 AM, and all the sudden I have too much energy to sleep. I still feel excited about  what is happening, about the amount of good habits I am building. I can’t promise that this diet is the end all be all, but for me it’s having some positive results and I’m pleased with where it’s headed. Keep your fingers cross for me as I step out of the hangover phase and into the blinding rage phase (or maybe cross them for my husband and children that have to deal with me.)

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Fitness Hyperfocus and How to Handle the Fallout

 

Sometimes in the eternal struggle to find a way to be healthy and get fit we find ourselves in a unique position, one that at the time seem’s like a godsend. You know what I’m talking about, you’re working out constantly, you’re feeling that burn in all the right places, you aren’t even complaining about it because hey, ‘No Pain, No Gain’ or how about ‘Pain is weakness leaving the body?’ You’re eating all the right things, the perfect blend of protein and vitamins, you’ve found some fancy named diet that makes you feel like you are on the very cutting edge of science and nothing is going to stop you! You wake up and eat, breathe, scream fitness! It’s during that phase that your instagram is flooded with workout selfies, sweat pouring down your face as you grin defiantly into to the iPhone, and your facebook is full of comments telling you how proud they are of you and how great you are looking! It’s addictive. Everyone around you hears what you are eating and why, you meticulously track every calorie on intake and when burned. You buy new pieces of exercise equipment and by god, you use them! This is the high point of fitness.

Some people call it the honeymoon phase, I call it…

Hyperfocus

Hyperfocus is a term I learned when I began to deal with my adult ADHD, simply put it is a period of deep and intense concentration. You find something you love and enjoy and the rest of the world becomes a big grey blur. In ADHD this can be anything, large chunks of time expressed in doing one activity on repeat. Art, video games, writing, cleaning, it can be anything and you aren’t satisfied until it is fully completed, and therein lies the problem with hyperfocus and fitness. You cannot complete fitness. There will never be a giant finish line to cross.

Hyperfocus in fitness isn’t necessarily a bad thing, at least not at first. Usually you find yourself making a lot of commitments and holding yourself accountable in ways that you might not otherwise. That is a positive thing! Commitments, friends, accountability, a community, those things will hold you through the inevitable fallout that you will have with your blooming storybook love with all things smoothie and barbell related comes to an end. I’m not here to discourage the intent laser-like focus we get on fitness right away, instead I would like to remind you, that it will slow down. You cannot maintain at 100% forever, it’s simply impossible. So while you feel passion, feel it, really feel it. Love it, soak it up. You get out there and join communities, you start those commitments and hold yourself accountable!

Once you hit the point where suddenly it’s not so exciting to eat another fruit bowl or make another protein shake for breakfast, when you want a waffle or a Pop-Tart instead, once you would rather go out instead of work out, or you just need a day to lay on the couch, once those things happen another thing usually happens. Guilt. You feel guilty for not working out, for not eating right, for not doing absolutely everything you could. I think we all know by  now that guilt and fitness are not great friends, they are the kind of friends that keep hanging out, but just tell all their other friends the other ones dirt. We can’t be guilted into loving ourselves, into fighting for our better selves. We have to want it, really want it.

So enough of telling you what Hyperfocus is and where it inevitably leads, here is how I combat it.

How to fight it

MODERATION:

I’ll be the first to admit that I have Borderline Personality Disorder so extremes are in my nature. I am all in or all out and I struggle with that with physical health more than anything else, so I have to be especially diligent in my all in phases. So instead of letting myself push for absolute perfection, I force moderation. Now, everyone will tell you how important moderation is, and when you are in the honeymoon smoochy phase of loving that runner’s high and convincing yourself that kale tastes great, the word moderation seems like a dirty word. “Why be moderate when I CAN be perfect?” You might ask yourself. Reasonable question, so here are some good ways to trick your brain.

  • Metabolism is a fickle mistress and if you eat a specific caloric intake all the time you can make yourself plateau. The way I have burst through that plateau time and time again seems counter-intuitive. I cheat. One day a week, I don’t count a damn calorie. Usually it’s a day when I’m going to get drunk and the idea of counting empty alcohol calories makes me want to cry, so I just don’t. I eat what I want, I may or may not work out, but I simply let myself be for one day. I don’t preplan the day, it’s not the same day every week. It just happens. Organic is the key here. If you want to wake up and eat a waffle and six strips of greasy bacon. Do. it. You have six other days to eat right.
  • Don’t restrict yourself to the detriment of a social life. If your friend makes her super special brownies once a year and she brings them to your house. Buddy please, eat the damn brownies. One day will not break you. Guilt over one day can!

SELF EVALUATION:

 I have to talk to myself. It’s nine pm, I already took a shower, it’s too late to work out, I had a heavy dinner. So what? Just do it. There isn’t a time at which you are not allowed to work out, showers can be taken again, next time hit the workout video before dinner. Just do it this time, you will feel better. That’s the real thing I have to tell myself every time. You will feel better for having done this. It has never been a lie. Even laying on my yoga mat, shirt soaked with the always attractive boob sweat, and gasping for air, I feel good. 

BRIBE YOURSELF:

Deep down we all like material stuff, and we are all still five years old. You might think, why bribe? I can just get what I want? I’m an adult. Absolutely, you sure can. Don’t though. Make goals, weight, fitness, food, inches any of those things you can make goals about. Make a list of goals and then assign a prize. For example, I could go get my nose pierced right now, nothing is stopping me. I have the money, I have the time, the gas is in the car, but if I get it when I hit my next milestone… it’ll mean something more to me. So here I am waiting for this thing I really want. You can do it, too.

Above all else remember this, love the hyperfocus while it exists, but be realistic with yourself. Don’t set yourself up for failure by pushing so hard you get injured or that if you miss a day you can’t get back on the horse. You will fail, you will fail a lot, and that is okay! You can always start fresh, and we are all waiting for you when you are ready to hop back on.

What do you do when you hit that wall at the end of hyperfocus? How do you keep yourself motivated? Do you even deal with that beginning hyperfocus? I would love to hear from you in the comments!

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